Ibn Katheer writes in his book, Al-Seerah al-Nabawiyya (Volume 1): It has been said that all Arabs trace their origins to Isma’eel, the son of Ibraheem; ‘alayhim salaam. However, what is well-known to be true is that the “Arab al-Ariba” [the original Arabs] came before Isma’eel. Among them were the people of ‘Ad, Thamoud, Tasm, Jadis, Umaym, Jurhum, and the ‘Amaliq, as well as others. Also, these peoples both came before and were contemporaries of al-Khaleel. Yet, the “Arab al-Musta’riba” [the Arabized Arabs], the Arabs of the Hijaz, were descendants of Isma’eel ‘alayhi salaam.
The “Arabs of Yemen”, the Himyar, are well-known to have been from Qahtan. It has been stated that they were a group of four brothers: Qahtan, Qahit, Muqhit and Faligh.
The word Arab means “barren land,” this was a piece of land where nothing grew. Then why was it chosen for the Last Messenger? Its geographical location makes it the center of the earth also known as the heart of the earth. Today, we see people drawn to this part of the world.
Prophet Isma’eel lived for 137 years and had twelve sons: Nabit, Qaydhar, Adhjbul, Misha, Misma’, Mashi, Dimma, Adhar, Yatoor, Nabsh, Tima, and Qaydhuma. Despite their large number, we do not read a notable mention of the sons unlike the sons of Ishaq ‘alayhi salaam. Out of the twelve, only Nabit and Qaydhar played some role. The Arabs of Hijaz are traced in their genealogy to these two.
The Rise of the Jurhumites
From Isma’eel ‘alayhi salaam, the ruling and custodianship of Ka’abah and Zamzam well was taken over by the Jurhumites – the tribe that had come from abroad – who ruled Makkah and the surrounding areas for approximately 2100 years.
There was another tribe Qatura that was settled in the lower part of Makkah while the Jurhumites were settled in the heights of Makkah at al-Qu’ayqi’fan. The Jurhumites and Qatura would charge a tax on all who passed by them on their way to Makkah. Later war broke out between them. The leader of Qatura was killed and the Jurhumites gained full power and control over Makkah and the Ka’abah.
The Fall of the Jurhumites
Due to a long period of leadership, eventually, corruption entered the Jurhumites. They started treating the people wrong and committed misdeeds. Another tribe Khuza’a whose lineage can be traced to Isma’eel ‘alayhi salaam rose and gained victory over the Jurhumites. And so, the Jurhumites were ousted from Ka’abah.
Upon leaving Makkah, ‘Amr bin Mudad – the leader of the Jurhumites said the following words of poetry addressing the new ruling tribes:
Her tears flowing and her eyes red and sore, in grief she said:
“It’s as though between al-Hajoon and al-Safa there has never been a friend,
and no evening pleasure in Makkah.”
So I told her, my heart made to flutter as though by a bird between my ribs:“Yes indeed; we were its people
but changing times and evil misfortunes destroyed us,
We were custodians of the Ka’abah after Nabit,
circling it around, our fine state clear.
We took charge of the temple after Nabit with dignity,
the wealthy gaining no favor with us.
We had power and prestige,
so be proud of our reign,
no tribe there more proud than us.
Did you not marry a woman to Isma’eel, the finest man I knew,
so his descendants are from us, and we are his relatives.’
So what if the world turned against us?
Life has its turns and tribulations
It was the King, the Almighty Ruler, who used His power to oust us;
thus, O People, do the fates decree.
If the carefree sleep and I not rest,
then I say, ‘O enthroned one, why did Suhayt and ‘Amir die?’
In exchange for them I got faces I dislike,
tribes including Himyar and Yuhabir.
We were despised, after having been in delight,
passing years thus biting us.
Tears flowed from eyes weeping for a land
with a secure and sacred place and shrines,
Weeping for a place whose pigeons are left unharmed,
living safe there, and sparrows too.
In it wild animals are safe
and may leave it without fear – they would never be attacked.”
According to Ibn Ishaq, ‘Amr b. al-Harith b. Mudad also said the words:
“O people move along;
your end is that one day you will not be able to move.
Urge on your mounts, release their reins before your death,
and do with us what you will do.
We were people as you were; fate changed us;
you will become as we became.”
In the book, Fada’il Makkah [the Virtues of Makkah] Abu al-Waleed al-Azraqi has recorded the poetry of ‘Amr bin al-Harith in the following words:
“Ask about the deeds of others before you,
so that the path of disgrace be made clear.
Once before you we were kings over people,
living resident in God’s sanctuary.”
Lesson: Through his poetry, ‘Amr leaves a message for all the leaders of the world: Do not exploit your authority. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has given you power and authority, be just. Do not plunder and harm people. This is also a message for all the politicians and decision makers.
Zamzam Well Sealed and Lost
Leaving Ka’abah, however, the Jurhumites committed another wrong. They stole the two gazelles of Ka’abah made of gold, the black stone [Hajar Aswad], decorated swords and other items and buried them all in the Zamzam well which was later sealed and signs of it erased. For over 300 years, the well remained undiscovered and people were deprived of its benefits.
[Adapted from the talks of Dr. Farhat Hashmi on the book: Tajjaliyat e Nabuwat by Maulana Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri. Some material has also been taken from Imam Ibn Katheer’s book: Al-Seerah Al-Nabawiya]